3 ways to listen to Audible audiobooks without a membership

3 ways to listen to Audible audiobooks without a membership

I’ve been an Audible member for several years now. I’m a devoted fan and use the service heavily. But I thought really hard about not renewing my membership when the time just came around. I’m listening to audiobooks all the time, but I’m not using my member credits.

(A credit is basically one book, but I explain more about how Audible works here.)

Back to those credits I’m not using: it’s not because I’m not listening to audiobooks; I’m listening to tons. But I’m also finding piles of dirt cheap deals through the following methods, and I’m scooping those up instead of spending my precious credits on them. As a result, my queue is pleasantly full, even while I have many, many credits in the metaphorical bank.

Today I’m sharing three ways (well, four if you’re new to Audible) you can save big on Audible audiobooks—without a membership.

Free trial

If you’re new to Audible, you qualify for a free thirty-day trial and two free audiobooks. Take advantage of it!

Pro tip: for your trial books, get what you want to listen to. No aspirational picks; no trying to please your kids or carpool buddy. If you’re not excited, you won’t listen—especially if you’re new to audiobooks.

If you’ve never tried Audible, sign up for a free trial here. (That means: two free audiobooks, plus access to all member benefits during the trial period, which means discounts on a la carte purchases and access to the occasional Audible big sales.)

Daily deals

I’ve found all kinds of great prices while compiling the Modern Mrs Darcy daily kindle deals emails—some Whispersync; some deal of the day. (I always share Whispersync prices and terrific deals of the day in that daily email. If you’re not on the list, sign up here.)

Because you do not need an Audible membership to purchase the deal of the day, this is a terrific way to try the service. If you have a membership, you can scoop up extra books for cheaper than the price of your credits.

If I think a Daily Deal will appeal to Modern Mrs Darcy readers, I include it in the Great Kindle Deals daily email, every time. (View the page here; that’s also where you can sign up to get the MMD deals delivered to your inbox each morning.)

Here’s a taste of the best books available as daily deals recently, with their sale prices. (Please note that the listed sale prices are no longer available! I’m just giving you a feel for what things cost, so you can get a rough idea of how much it would cost to keep you in audiobooks for a good long while.)

The Unseen World by Liz Moore ($4.95)
What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan ($3.95)
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry ($2.95)
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester ($3.95)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett ($3.95)
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah ($4.95)
10% Happier by Dan Harris ($4.95)

Whispersync deals

Whispersync for Kindle allows you to switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the audio version without losing your place, if you own both.

For today’s purposes, here’s what you need to know: sometimes it’s cheaper to buy the ebook PLUS the audiobook than it is to buy the audiobook alone. Way, way cheaper.

Not all books are available for Whispersync. And many times, it costs $12.99 to add Audible narration to your ebook purchase. But sometimes, it only costs a dollar or two. Compared to off-the-rack audiobook prices, or even the cost of Audible member credits, $1.00 for a top-notch audiobook is a steal.

If you own the ebook, you can buy the whispersync narration at any time. Even if you got the ebook for free. This means it can be an AMAZING value to listen to the classics on audible, because you can often get the ebook for free or very, very inexpensively (thank you, public domain), and then add the Whispersync narration if it’s inexpensive. And it’s often inexpensive.

Note: We always share current Whispersync pricing for all books in the daily Great Kindle Deals email.

An example of classics you can get inexpensively, buy buying the free or inexpensive ebook and adding the Audible narration. I’ve linked to the ebook below, and included the current price of the Audible narration. (Note this price only applies to the Whispersync add-on; it will cost you full fare if you buy the audiobook only. More details about how Whispersync works here.)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; companion audiobook is narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal. ($1.99)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; companion audiobook is narrated by Andrea Emmes. ($0.99)
• Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; companion audiobook is narrated by Rachel McAdams. ($1.99)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; companion audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance. ($.99)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; companion audiobook narrated by Thandie Newton. ($1.99)
Emma by Jane Austen; companion audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson. ($.99)
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas; companion audiobook narrated by Bill Homewood. 4.7 star rating! ($2.99)

Whispersync prices for contemporary fiction are also plentiful. Budget-wise, the easiest way to save is to snatch these up if/when the ebook goes on sale, and those sales are time-sensitive. For a full list of my favorites available today, visit the Great Kindle Deals page, updated daily, to see current offerings. The Whispersync options are always clearly marked.

All these deals do change periodically. Check prices before buying!

Amazon Prime

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream a selection of 40+ topselling audiobooks, including Cold Sassy TreeEverything I Never Told YouThe Good Girl, and H Is for Hawk, for FREE.

I share all the details on Audible Channels in this post.

Dear readers, I hope this post helps you get a little more out of your reading life, and save you money while doing it.

Got a great audiobook tip? I’d love to hear all about it in comments. 

how to save on audiobooks

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55 comments

    • Christie Kline says:

      Yep. I am finally compelled to comment, because I regularly hear and read you and your guests mention the high cost of being an audiobook lover, when I feed my addiction 100% for free through my library. If it’s not on Overdrive, I get the discs from the library and import them into iTunes (in the spirit of good library patron, I try to listen before the due date and always delete the files when I’m done). Overdrive used to be difficult to use, but it’s not anymore (or I’m just used to its quirks!). The other criticism I think people have is that you might have to put books on hold for a while before it’s your turn. If you put enough books on hold, eventually it’ll be your turn for something all the time! And the app gives you suggestions for what you can listen to right now similar to the book you just put on hold.

      • Kathi says:

        I LOVE Overdrive. It is great for car rides, long and short. I have listened to several novels in the past few months. The narrator of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo had a voice and pauses that made the book even more nerve-wracking than it would have been if I’d read it to myself! Highly recommend. (Overdrive and The Snowman)

      • chouette22 says:

        I use Overdrive as well, but have never imported audio discs into iTunes! Does it take a long time or is fairly swift? It’s quite a bit of work for a book that has over 10 cds, no?

        • Christie Kline says:

          For most CDs Itunes automatically starts importing and then automatically spits the disk out when it’s done, so I just have to feed the disks in while I’m doing something else on the computer. It’s not too bad, though for some of those 20 diskers, I’ve been know to listen a to couple disks before I commit to importing the whole thing!

          • chouette22 says:

            Thank you very much for your reply! I remember converting CDs to mp3 files in the past (like 10 years ago) and what a major pain and lengthy process it was. I was burnt and never considered it again, haha. I will, however, certainly try this with iTunes! My new car came without a CD player and I have always relied on CD audiobooks when they are not available for download. I even bought a cheap CD-player for the car (hooked up via AUX cable to the audio system) and it works. The only downside is that it does not remember the track of the CD (I knew that going into this). Thus at my destination, I write down the track and when I leave, I have to forward the CD to the right spot. A pain – and I don’t listen to CDs on anything shorter than a 15 min drive.

  1. Michelle says:

    You mention that through Amazon you can add Audible narriation at any time. The link below allows you to sign into your Amazon account and it will pull up your Kindle Cloud library and show you how much each books narration add on would be. Once you are on the link there are four vertical boxes to the far right. The one on the bottom says “Add Audible Narration to Books You Own”. You’ll then sign in and it will show you available books and prices. The prices change from time to time so it’s worth checking back periodically (as we know from the daily specials you post!). It’s an easy way to go back and check your ebooks all at once.

    http://amzn.to/2jVmAZs

    • Sky Sanchez-Fischer says:

      All of these are great suggestions. I just read 5 books for the month of January, my personal best so far!, and two were on Audible. I am loving it! I was going to suggest the library too, although I’ve not been able to successfully use that yet, but my husband has. And Michelle(!!!) what a wonderful suggestion and huge tip. I’ll be trying that now:)
      Love this community.

      • Michelle says:

        I love all of the amazing inspiration and tips I get here from Anne and fellow readers also Sky. In fairness, I realized after I posted the information above Anne explains this all fully if you follow her link in the post where she says “More details about how Whispersync works here.”. I also really love being linked into our local library through Overdrive. Many neighboring county libraries offer reciprocity at no cost which opens up your lending options considerably. I’m at the corner of four counties and have lending privileges at three (only because I haven’t bothered to go into the forth).

  2. Susan King says:

    I have been able to pick up Whispersync narration for library ebooks on my Kindle. Once the book is returned to the library, the Audible book remains accessible in my Audible app.

  3. Colleen says:

    If you are an audible member, once you’ve amassed a large queue does it stay, even if you no longer pay the monthly membership? Or does your membership pay for “access” to those titles as well?

    • Colleen, I switched my audible membership to a limited one, so I paid $9.95 and apparently that lasts for a year. I get billed nothing monthly but have access to daily deals, specials and all my current books (and I can still use the 2 credits I had at the time).

      You can also put your account on hiatus for 3 months of every year. I did this each year for the first two years. Really helps with money and catching up 🙂

  4. Kaytee Cobb says:

    I was doing the same thing and buying lots of great books for CHEAP but not using my credits, so I went to cancel and they offered me a Silver plan, which is one credit every other month instead of every month. That way I still get the occasional credit for a full priced audiobook (especially those with a long library wait), but the credits don’t build up as fast!

      • Kaytee says:

        Yes, that’s what my experience was as well. I first looked for a cheaper option and couldn’t find one, but when they offered Silver, I was like “$15 every OTHER month… yes”!

    • Judy Bobalik says:

      I switched to inactive light (you must call and ask about it) It’s $10ish a year and I still get some sale notices but I get time to use up my credits.

  5. Felicia Gressette says:

    Chiming in to recommend “Emma” as mentioned above; the narrator is wonderful. I’m just starting “Anna Karenina” with Maggie Gyllenhaal as narrator and so far, it’s excellent. I’m finding that listening to classics I’ve somehow never read is an enjoyable incentive for my early morning walks, and retreating from today’s political climate into earlier centuries is soothing.

  6. Susan in TX says:

    I’ve got a question for you that have been long time Audible users – purchasing audios. What do you do when you are done listening? Do you eventually start having storage issues? Do you use a cloud? My husband loves audio, but with digital photos (and multiple people in our family taking them), we had to figure out the storage issue – same with music, and I’m wondering if audio books would eventually pose the same problem? Do those of you who buy audio books ever re-listen to them? It seems more of a waste to me…I am a HUGE book buyer – don’t misunderstand – I definitely have “collector issues” with books; but, books I can loan to others, pluck off the shelf and flip for a reference quickly if I need to, sell to a Half Price Bookstore if I decide I no longer want to keep it – or give it away. What can you do with audio books after you’ve listened to them? No judgment here — I’m asking because I am truly ignorant on the subject. I keep thinking I’d like to do more audio so that I can get back to some of my crafting hobbies (“reading” while I stamp, cross stitch, etc.), but I’m wanting to know the benefit of buying over just using Overdrive or Hoopla through the library? Also trying to avoid creating a new appetite for thinking I “have” to listen to something “now.” 😉 Anybody?

    • Steph says:

      Audible makes it pretty easy to maintain the storage space on your devices. They store it in the cloud for you. You click on the title to download it, and then when you’re done, you tell it remove the book from your device. Download it again whenever you want to listen.

      It also allows you to share an account for a certain number of devices (not sure of the limit, we only use two). It works great for us as my son uses my husbands old smartphone to listen to books from my audible library during quiet time. One awesome feature is that if I were to click on the same book on my phone, it asks if I want to listen where I stopped last time or wherever he stopped–it’s pretty seamless.

      I do prefer Hoopla (my library doesn’t have Overdrive) for some books that I may not want to hear again. I use Audible mostly for classics/favorites/children’s books and the occasional really good deal on a book I’ve been wanting to read. Unfortunately, the Hoopla app has been clunky for me lately–Audible is much nicer to use.

    • I delete them from my phone and leave them in the cloud until I want to re-listen.

      I listened to the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up twice and also to Better than Before.

      Oh, I only listen to non-fiction or memoirs on audible so they’re easy to re-listen. I would never re-listen to fiction.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Susan in TX says:

    Back to add – Anne, I do really appreciate these kinds of posts, AND the daily deals. I picked up a few of those free audio deals around the holidays myself — which is what made me start wondering about the storage issue in the first place.

  8. Kelsey says:

    I need to start using my Amazon prime account to listen to books! I’ve been using the free kindle library, but I’ve never used an audiobook from it.

    I’m an old-fashioned library audiobook listener…I have the overdrive app on my phone, and I just login and borrow an audiobook and download it straight to my phone. It’s a little annoying when there’s a long wait for the book, but I usually have a long enough list of books to read or listen to, so I have plenty to read in the meantime!

  9. Anne this is such a funny coincidence. I posted this morning on my blog about the free Amazon prime ebooks available through the audible app. We’ve been listening all day, I only found out about this yesterday. So neat! I’m really looking forward to using the language learning and other podcasts in our homeschooling, there are a ton, even some from the Great Courses.

  10. Melisa says:

    Overdrive hooks up to your library card and is 100% free. If you don’t mind waiting for best sellers, it’s the way to go.

  11. Ally says:

    Not sure whether it will work everywhere however in Australia we have Overdrive through our local Libraries for Audiobooks, but we also have BorrowBox which is the same kind of thing. I regularly listen to books through this, you can reserve books, view recommendations or search for particular titles or Authors or even by the Narrator. BorrowBox is free and very easy to use, in conjunction with Overdrive, you would have a surplus of books or perhaps less of a line to wait?

  12. Jeremy says:

    Is there an index of the list of 40 + available audible books you could have access to If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber?

  13. Jamie says:

    I had forgotten about the free streaming for Prime members. Thanks for the reminder – will need to search through those titles to see if any strike my fancy.

  14. Jacelyn says:

    Rosamund Pike’s version of Pride and Prejudice is only $1.99 if you buy P&P on Kindle for $0.99! If you don’t have an Audible membership or don’t want to stream only.

  15. These are the hints I’ve been waiting for.

    I recently joined a library (we don’t live in a library district), and have been putting audio books on my itunes for future listening. Haven’t tried Overdrive yet–so many books. Overwhelming.
    Whispersync is super easy, and if you haven’t tried it, definitely do.

    One other resource: I always have something from The Classic Tales Podcast on my phone. He features works that are in the public domain. Often there are no audio versions of these books because they’re not considered high-value enough. He’s done everything from Poe to Lovecraft to Stoker and Jane Austen and PG Wodehouse, Thomas Hardy. Always something new to me. And totally free for the current podcasts, which you can stack up. Perfect.

  16. Pam M says:

    When I want to read a certain book I always check Overdrive first. They have SO MANY books available. I save my Audible credits for the books I can’t get on Overdrive. I love these other options. This blog is such a great resource.

  17. Terri says:

    I have been an Audible user for many years, with 2 accounts. I also use Overdrive and have a Prime membership which I use to listen to audiobooks. I recently found Playster, Playster.com, which allows me to listen to unlimited audiobooks. I’ve been using this service for three months now and am impressed! There are very few titles not available. They offer new releases on Tuesday, the app is simple to use, you can download to your phone and remove when you are finished. I’m not affiliated with Playster, just a very happy customer. Oh, they have ebooks as well, which I read on my iPad.

  18. AR Pickett says:

    My first reaction was “what about the public library?” but I see the first comment posted was from another library user. So, I join those who recommended the library.

  19. Gail says:

    I am at a point in my life where I am getting rid of things…not purchasing. I use the library exclusively and I am lucky enough to belong to 2 library systems. My 2 wishlists contain hundreds of titles and I always have something to read on my Kindle and an audiobook on my phone. Overdrive makes me happy! Thanks for this post….love your podcast.

  20. Deanna says:

    Though I’m a major Audible books user, sometimes I just let my phone or tablet read my kindle books to me. Are you aware of this feature?

    On an iOS device, you enable the screen reader (voice over) and it will read your book to you. it’s NOT the same as professional narration, and doesn’t have some of the nifty audible app features like chapter markers, sleep timers, and auto rewind, but I find that I don’t mind this when I use voice over to read to me.

    Sometimes I do this when a book is available on kindle but not audible, or when I already have the kindle book, probably I got it free or really cheap, and don’t want to pay to buy the audible version or to add whispersync at the offered price.

    It has a sort of whispersync benefit in that I can read the kindle book when my eyes are free and put it on voice over to read to me when my eyes are busy doing other things.

    If you want to try it, I recommend setting the accessibility shortcut to voice over. This way, when you triple click the iPhone home button, voice over comes on. Triple click again and it goes off. It’s best to open the book on kindle first and then triple click, because navigating around the phone with voice over on is a pain.

    Here are the steps:
    Settings
    General
    Accessibility
    Accessibility shortcut (at the bottom of the screen)
    Voice over

    You will want to adjust the speed of the voice over reading.
    Settings
    General
    Accessibility
    Voice over
    Speaking rate (slide the bar under the turtle)

    You can also turn voice over on and off by going to settings but I find the triple click far easier.

    • Anne says:

      Nope. Audible is an audiobook provider; Whispersync is the audio service that lets you seamlessly switch between the audio and kindle versions of books.

  21. Amama Jones says:

    My local libraries use OverDrive and cloudLibrary. You get them for a couple weeks and can renew them if no one else has placed a hold on the same book. I actually belong to a couple of local library systems so I can put holds on popular books and see which one is available first!!

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